TODAY -

Towards a peaceful Manipur
- Part 1 -

Dr. Gunadhor Okram *

Manipur Map



"Non-standard vocabularies seem to be one of the origins of unrest in Manipur as these are mightier than swords: Akaiba wa eeshing changaga pummi." Therefore these if used must be stopped or controlled as a responsible Manipuri. One should respect others so that he gets respect in return. It should be a big social issue to campaign to create a very effective way to reducing the conflict to its minimum permissible limit for a viably peaceful and attractively livable Manipur... to develop into an industrialized state… with its own revenue sufficient to run its administration and maintain infrastructure.

Glorified as powerhouse of games, sports, culture, literature, handloom and handicrafts, birth place of polo and so on, but arguably tarnished in recent times due to insurgency problems and consequent devastating social and hence political unrest, jeopardizing peaceful cohesion to the fast pace for development around the world in the present age of information technology, biotechnology and nanotechnology, making the whole world in totality a global village, a tiny hilly yet a far-flung, north-eastern (NE) state of India, with nine ranges of hills (20,089 sq. Km.) surrounding still the tinier valley (2,238 sq. Km) of less than even the population of Indore, Madhya Pradesh who are circumstantially foreign (Mongoloid) to general mainstream perception also may describe this place fondly. It is Manipur.

However, Manipuris who are too boastful of its rich cultural traditions should not forget that they do not have any distinctive modern industrial output or infrastructure in terms of industry, education, science and technology, turning into the rampant preference to send their wards for outside education and so on… We must mind on these aspects in a very practical way. Unless this is done at the earliest, our pride shall remain hollow. This will control draining out our meager income!

Though tiny, Manipur has a rich history, fauna, flora and many sub-ethnic tribes. Before coming to the concentrated context on Manipur, it might be appropriate to start with how and why history comes up for human beings, not for other animals.

Man, even though social but greedy in simple term by nature, creates history. History as a consequence is always associated with conflict (foe) and friendship. Somehow or the other, friendship turns foe or vice-versa. This is like two sides of the same coin or a palm and the back of a hand. To avoid conflict, moderation becomes an essential ingredient of life whether personal, social, organizational, inter-regional, provincial, country-wise and inter-country-wise or so on…

All these aspects become very essential for the smooth flow of essential commodities such as grains, life-saving drugs, mercantile, natural gas, high-tech products, and outer space and so on. For example, without communication satellites, we cannot enjoy TV serials or channels at home and mobile phones almost everywhere! This means that our life today is complex that our daily needs require the whole world in the scenario of global village, not in isolation.

There has never been a situation in history or an event such a simple social phenomenon as marriage which is almost all the cases not trouble-free. This means some degree of conflict is always involved in any important event. That is, one may put this way: conflict-free situation seldom happens in nature. In sum, one may argue, all these make us more and more intelligent as the time passes by, which is what history proves, whether inter-regional, interprovincial, interstate, inter-country-wise or global.

In simple term, greed but with consequent refinements gives birth to supremacy over others giving rise to 'survival for the fittest' situation. As a consequence, group leader, village chief, town/ city mayor, Member of Legislative Assembly, Member of Parliament, minister, chief minister, prime minister, president and so on came or come up. In the process, once elected or nominated, such individuals dictate or rule ordinary citizens, who have to willingly or unwillingly follow the leader or the rule he/ they make. This is what slowly turns out as man progresses with time, termed as administration.

Further, it invokes competitions in any areas. It may be knowledge, physical strength, intelligence and intuitiveness to mention a few. Some people may be very good in games and sports, some in study, art and culture, crafts, so on and so forth. Gradually, a community is proven to be superior to the other. Then, naturally, the superior community or the person always tries to maintain its dominance over the other or the weaker.

This is how zamindari system exists in many places in India even today as portrayed in TV serials and movies. This happens gradually as a community in all the cases and never an individual. As a result, the downtrodden people have a mindset to take revenge whenever there is a chance. In other words, everybody is greedy in true sense and he is never happy if he is inferior or less so for the superior.

The inferior cannot be made superior by making reservation in the system for such people because reservation makes them idle, non-competitive, still more inferior and in the long run ineffective. This means in other words the permanent inferiority. If an individual or a community does not like this stigma, they have to compete, or perhaps fight in a tactical way, so that they are proven not as inferior but equal if not superior. They must come out of reservation boundary, as has been seen in recent times.

This is what is happening everywhere in the world such as voting right not given earlier based on sex or community. These have been gradually wiped out throughout the world with time. The best example is the present president of the United States of America (USA), Barak Obama, whose community was earlier denied voting right, forget about becoming a president from their community. This is what the stark reality of the world today proves.

This has been what I have been trying to bring in the context of development in modern vocabulary or civilization in old terminology one requires to keep in mind particularly the fellow Manipuris today. They must think in much broader context the world itself than the very narrow-mindset of Manipur, as surrounded by ranges of hills, making a typical 'volcanic well' in the global context!

Sense of belongingness with a reference to friendliness, ever-helping nature, love and affection as brothers and sisters, parents and grand-parents need not be explained again as we are descendents of such outcome whatsoever had happened is history. Because of man's willingness to dominate, one generation after the other, many outsiders had historically migrated and transformed into locals and even ruled.

With the ages passed by we as such may not know who even pure indigenous people than some others are as they are circumstantially mixed up in several permutations and combinations. This is what Manipur today and hence one cannot simply conclude that they are actually the real Manipuris, Manipuris based on how many years back from today! This should be taken more cautiously as usual.

This should not be an exception to some community or the other as we are all one, thereby claiming their land for separate homeland would be against the very fabric of brotherhood, which at least we as a whole cannot claim against. Then, why must we be separated; separation makes us weaker to what we called outsiders. A single stick is prone to break easily but not a bunch of it. In this context, in the name of protected area shadow, while valley people cannot own a land in the hills, these hills are reportedly settled by sizeable number of the so-called outsiders, not valley people. This is noteworthy.

In this sense, what is that exactly happening in the hills is also not encouraging for Manipuris in general. On other hand, in this age of global village naturally rather than by compulsion, regionalism or communalistic approach does not seem to be appropriate. This shall degrade further our already underdeveloped tag.

One may say that every tribe in the world was tribal initially. Gradually, their skills become better and understandable to the world of advanced knowledge, intelligence and hard work. In the name of competition and dominance over the other, they systematically become one after the other, modern-age man.

In the name of indigenousness, extra-love to being tribal does also not seem to be a good idea and one should also not be happy when he is called a tribal, to get reservation or whatsoever. Even if it is, one must utilize it fully, taking the advantage of it and compete the best. He must rather come out to compete because world today is extremely competitive as competitors outnumber the opportunities.

Therefore, everybody should have equal right to compete for anything so that he attains the status of modern civilized human being. The same has been proven in many spheres of life, which has been nurtured and proven, giving guide to other peripheral groups but should be spread towards the downtrodden. By living together within one government may not necessarily make them forever suppressed.

If it is so, they might better come out to compete as in other fields to prove what the general public perceived may not be necessarily correct as did by black Americans. Now, they are no less than white Americans, if becoming their president is one of the most important criteria to become a superior American. In this context also, our hill people are never behind others, who had already produced two of the longest serving chief ministers of the state, which does not seem to be a negligible achievement! The same is applicable in big offices.

Then, why should hill people still think that they are suppressed or dominated by others, read meiteis? Even if such great intellectual people with big science or engineering degrees and so on, finally they have to request for favor to get signed or the approval on their important documents to these hill officer/s on the top (read DC or some post of similar kind)! Means, to be great is not just becoming an engineering or medical officer/ degree holder, who is easily handled by just an ordinary degree holder also (read SDM or similar post).

To be continued...


* Dr. Gunadhor S. Okram wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer is a Scientist at UGC-DAE Consortium for Scientific Research, University Campus, Khandwa Road Indore and can be reached at okramgs(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was posted on January 23, 2013.



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